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    3 - 5 Years
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    • Date Posted
      March 02,2021
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    Research Assistant 'Deep Transitions'

    We are looking for a Research Assistant for the Deep Transitions Futures Research Project. This project examines the concept of ‘Deep Transitions’: the coordinated change of many socio-technical systems in the same direction, over a period of time, which result in large-scale social, ecological and economic impact, transforming the nature of world societies. These connected transitions interrelate and interdepend to inform a series of rules and meta-rules shared amongst different socio-technical systems that in turn provide the backbone of contemporary societies. The theoretical framework underpinning the Deep Transitions concept is founded predominantly in two literatures that have attempted to explain large-scale and long-term socio-technical change: the Multilevel Perspective (MLP), and the Techno-economic Paradigm (TEP) framework. A series of transitions can be defined as one “Deep Transition” when they meet three criteria: (1) That the related transitions change an already established and embedded set of met-rules within existing socio-technical systems (2) That the changing of these meta-rules inform a new phase in the history of industrialisation, modernity or industrial consumption (3) That the transitions and shift to a new phase is a gradual process taking longer than a century.

    For more information on the methodological background of the Deep Transitions project see Article 1 on Deep Transitions and Article 2 with a broader background on the tree Frames of Innovation theory and systems thinking. The project is a collaboration between the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) of the University of Sussex and the Utrecht University Centre for Global Challenges (UGLOBE). For more information see the project website.

    The first phase of work was carried out in the Deep Transitions History Research Project (2018-2020). The Deep Transition Futures Research Project (start date: September 2020) is the second phase of work. It focuses on developing socio-technical scenarios for the Second Deep Transition as it may unfold over the coming decades. The project team identified the financial sector as a critical player in the unfolding of the Second Deep Transition. The project thus seeks to deploy a specific theory of change in futures work with a Global Panel of Investors. This panel will bring together public and private investors from across the globe. By means of discussing state-of-the-art scenarios of future development, their implications for public and private investment decisions will be assessed, and a new investment philosophy for transformation enabling a Second Deep Transition will be developed.

    The research assistant will support the research team with the preparation, execution, and follow-ups of the panel work. Activities include conducting desk research and literature reviews on topics related to the Deep Transitions Panel Work (e.g. sustainable finance, multi-scalarity, socio-technical systems, megatrends, critical junctures, impact cascades) collecting and logging research data during the panel meetings, transcribing interviews and meeting recordings, supporting the writing of panel reports and other supporting research reports, and conducting follow-up research based on the outcomes of the panel sessions. In addition, the research assistant will support the project manager with data management (managing the shared repository of literature and primary sources, shared document archives), proofreading and formatting documents, and the overall administration of the project.

    • You have a completed (research) Master’s degree at a University-level in a relevant discipline (e.g Science and Technology Studies, Sustainability Sciences, International Relations (required);
    • Interested in research topics relating to sustainability transitions and transformations, and can relate your own research expertise to the Deep Transitions Framework (required);
    • 0-2 years of experience working in an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research environment and/or experience working with the private sector;
    • Strong and demonstratable analytical research and writing skills, and experience in conducting qualitative academic research;
    • Adaptable and proactive, able to work with deadlines and manage peak periods in the workload;
    • Excellent communication- and collaboration skills. You are pro-active and able to work independently as well as in an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary team;
    • Experience with data management and developing databases (R / R-Studio);
    • Strong digital skills (Office 365, Teams, Zoom, Miro, Mural are programs we use);
    • Excellent command of English. Command of other languages (French, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, Russian) are a pre;
    • Some experience with project administration would be a pre;
    • Experience communicating and/or working with non-academic audiences (as the project involves non-academic stakeholders).


    We offer a temporary position (0.3 FTE), initially for a period of 9 months (01/04/2021 – 31/12/2021). Depending on the interview there is a possibility to increase this to a total of approx. 0.8 FTE. The gross salary - depending on previous qualifications and experience - ranges between €2.656 and €3.548 (scale 8 according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year. In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). More information about working at Utrecht University can be found here.

    Over de organisatie

    Utrecht University strives for excellence in teaching and research. This also holds for the clearly defined research profiles with respect to four core themes: Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences, and Sustainability. Utrecht University has a strong commitment to community outreach and contributes to answering today's and tomorrow's social questions.

    The Faculty of Humanities has around 7,000 students and 900 staff members. It comprises four knowledge domains: Philosophy and Religious Studies, History and Art History, Media and Culture Studies, and Languages, Literature and Communication. Through its research and teaching in these domains, the Faculty aims to contribute to a better understanding of the Netherlands and Europe in a rapidly changing social and cultural context. The enthusiastic and committed colleagues and the excellent facilities in the historical city centre of Utrecht, where the Faculty is housed, contribute to an inspiring working environment.

    Aanvullende informatie

    For more information, please contact Susanne Keesman MA (project manager) at Please note that applications can only be submitted through the “apply now” button below. Please do not send your application via email.

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